David J. Silverman has written a very accessible and compelling book on a little-known subject which sheds much light on race issues in early America. Most readers will probably never have heard of the Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians, two communities which encompassed various Native American tribes and embraced Christianity in the 18th century.
This book uses the story of one family and its legal battles to uncover relationships between religion, race, gender, identity, and personal law in south India in the first half of the 19th century. Matthew Abrahams was an Indian Roman Catholic of lowly background but increasing wealth.
In 1775, Samuel Johnson had already identified the central paradox of United States history. He notoriously challenged British readers to explain why ‘we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes’. Generations of historians have tried to answer that question. How could a movement espousing belief in liberty include so many slaveholders?